July 31, 2003
SAN BRUNO, Calif. - The University of Portland was voted as the favorite to win the WCC men's soccer title in the 2003 WCC preseason poll, as selected by the conference coaches, but only by the narrowest of margins.
The Pilots are the slim favorite, edging out both San Diego and Santa Clara by one point. As a sign of parity in the conference, four different teams received first place votes. The WCC finished the 2002 season with a #6 RPI ranking.
San Diego and Santa Clara tied for the second spot in the poll, each with two first place votes. The Toreros lost the WCC's top scorer from last season with the graduation of Ryan Coiner. USD will return three all-conference performers, including the 2002 Defender of the Year, Scott Burcar, senior Matt McCausland and senior Eric Wunderle. Santa Clara is coming off a year in which they went 10-6-1 and tied for third place in the conference. The Broncos led the WCC with a 2.47 goals per game average and return first team all-conference defender Ryan Cochrane.
The Pilots will return two sophomores who garnered all-conference honors last season in forward Alejandro Salazar and midfielder Miguel Guante. Salazar, the WCC Freshman of the Year, tied for the conference lead with six goals in WCC contests last season. The Pilots tied a WCC record by winning five conference games in 2002 and finished the season with a #19 national ranking.
San Francisco received a first place vote and was picked to finish fourth overall. The Dons will return 12 players who started at least half of the team's games last season. USF will return first team all-conference performer Josh Hansen as well as starting goalkeeper Mark Muleady. After making their second straight NCAA tournament appearance in 2002, Loyola Marymount is predicted to finish fifth this season. The Lions will have to compensate for the loss of four time all-conference team member Arturo Torres, but welcome back three second team all-conference players in Michael Erush, Matt Kovar, and Kevin Novak. Gonzaga and Saint Mary*s were picked to finish sixth and seventh, respectively.
WCC Preseason Men's Soccer Poll
1. Portland (2)- 29
2. San Diego (2) - 28
Santa Clara (2) - 28
4. San Francisco (1) - 22
5. Loyola Marymount - 21
6. Gonzaga - 13
7. Saint Mary's - 6